against Sammy Draper were to be in the form of a Summary Court Martial
which is a serious trial before a court of three officers and in accordance
with the Judge Advocate General (JAG) regulations. Each ship had an
officer with the collateral duties of representing the Navy legal
establishment and conducting legal proceedings all the way from a
simple Captains Mast to a Summary Court Martial.
But for the grace of God I would have been that officer. I had held
that job for two years and then been relieved because I had too many
other duties: I was ship electronics officer in charge of radars,
radios, and sonars; assistant ship engineering officer in charge of
the ships boilers, turbines and generators; I was even mess
officer. I insisted on that last position in order to get what I considered
edible food. Of course, for all my assignments I had very capable
petty officers working under me who were specialists in electronics,
engineering, and so forth. In fact, its petty officers are the
ones responsible for making the Navy work. Working with them was a
pleasure once you understood their one big idiosyncrasy: They loved
to report failures. Mr. Jarvis, come below and look at this
big pump that just crapped out. I never understood the obvious
pleasure they got out of such reports, as if they were somehow testing
But my most important job was that of deck officer. When the ship
was underway I was on duty for four hours, commanding the ship and
giving orders to the helmsman; I spent eight hours off duty. This
occurred around the clock since the ship was underway 24 hours a day.
This was a killer job, particularly in rough weather when I couldnt
sleep during the hours I was off watch.
So Lt. J.G. Ken Matson had been chosen to replace me as the Judge
Advocate Generals representative on board. Ken was a nice guy,
but definitely not a paperwork artist; he was basically a feather
merchant (what they called non-Annapolis officers)he hadnt
gotten even the rudimentary legal training you get at Annapolis. Furthermore,
what had kept me out of trouble in all the disciplinary actions over
which I presided as JAG was the accurate work of Yeoman Sammy Draper
who wrote up all the JAG proceedings in perfect legal format. Now
Sammy Draper acting as his own defense council was the opposition,
and poor Ken Matson (the new JAG) was like a lamb being led to slaughter.
The captain convened the court with three officers from our ship.
The senior officer or president of the court was a mustang, Lt. Rule,
who had risen from the ranks to become an officer. He was definitely
not a paperwork man. What a prescription for disaster. These courts
had to be conducted just so, and were all carefully reviewed by Navy
lawyers permanently assigned to JAG.
The trial document grew to more than 200 pages and all of it was later
thrown out by the reviewing officers because it was rife with
procedural errors. Sammy Draper had protested all the way through,
asked what those dogs were doing there to begin with, and made a mockery
of the court. Apparently the highlight of the proceedings was when
Paymaster Day, who stuttered badly when under stress, tried under
oath to repeat the insubordinate insult. With his blue eyes flashing
and his face contorted he repeated Drapers phrase Up your
g,g,g, ga, ga, giggy with a m,m,m,m, meat hook you m,m,m,m, mor-on.
The final outcome of the case was that the commodore, who was the
immediate superior of my Captain, gave official reprimands to the
president of the court, the JAG, and our Captain Schutt. If an officer
gets two reprimands he probably will never make admiral; so our Captain
at that moment saw his lifelong career go up in flames. Frankly, that
is the reason I had never seriously entertained the idea of a career
in the service. You just dont have any control of your own destiny.
For that same reason I had decided against the career of politics;
for at the the whim of the voters, you could be out of office. I finally
chose the only sure thing, having my own company where I had a better
chance to succeed by my own efforts.